What images defined 2019? For those of us at The Optimist Daily, it was the sight of people streaming into the streets protesting boldly for climate action. But this year looks very different— especially for climate activists. With shelter-in-place orders in effect, climate strikers have had to change their tactics. Now, instead of big crowds, they hold mass video calls, and instead of marching with banners and placards, they post photos with hashtags.
“We’ve started digital striking because we want to keep the momentum going so that when the pandemic is contained we still have that energy and we can go back on to the streets,” said Dominque Palmer, a 20-year-old climate activist from London.
Every Friday, the strikers post photos of themselves holding a sign with a message about the climate crisis along with #DigitalStrike or #ClimateStrikeOnline, and they congregate in large Zoom calls, often with more than 100 people. The calls are also giving the strikers a unique opportunity to connect with people they would not normally get the chance to meet. Today, April 24th, you can actually tune into the 24-hour Livestream that is being broadcasted by Fridays For Future (FFF). The Livestream showcase strikers around the globe, and is hosting a regular weekly webinar, Talks for Future, which features climate scientists and other experts.
Activists are also using digital strikes to create Twitter storms, bombarding companies, and people in power with tweets at a set time. Last month, FFF Digital and the Polluters Out campaign teamed up to target Shell and the Adani Group, demanding a stop to new fossil fuel projects.
Digital activism may not necessarily be as powerful or effective as in-person activism, but it’s inspiring to see climate activists keeping up the energy despite the adverse circumstances caused by COVID-19. And in the meantime, the planet is getting a much-needed break from all our human activity.